The Ministry for Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of North Rhine-Westphalia has issued a grant programme specifically for SMEs. Using the umbrella brand "Mittelstand.innovativ" [innovative SMEs], so-called innovation vouchers are awarded in cooperation with the NRW Innovation Alliance. The primary aim is to support planning, development, and realisation as well as further evolution of products, manufacturing, or services to strengthen the innovative capacity and growth orientation of businesses in North Rhine-Westphalia - in small and medium-sized businesses in manufacturing, commerce, and services as well as in trade. The innovation voucher is available in two versions:
for external scientific consulting services in the run-up to the development of an innovative product, service, or processing innovation, e.g. technology and market research, feasibility studies, materials studies, or research into product engineering.
for external implementation-oriented research and development services geared towards making innovative products, production processes, and services marketable or production-ready, e.g. design services, service engineering, prototyping, design, product tests in quality assurance, etc.